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Monday, March 4, 2024

Good news for women entrepreneurs: €20M fund announced by Female Founders

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Austrian organisation,  Female Founders, has announced a new €20m fund for women entrepreneurs.  Fund F, which has secured €12.5m so far, is the first ever fund especially for Austrian female founders.

Despite the IT industry’s efforts to encourage female entrepreneurs, women still receive just a small portion of overall VC financing invested in firms.

That is why Female Founders, an Austrian organization that supports female entrepreneurs through accelerator and leadership programs, events, and networking, is announcing today the first closing of its new €20 million fund devoted entirely to female founders.

According to Female Entrepreneurs cofounders Lisa-Marie Fassl and Nina Wöss, Fund F, which has raised €12.5 million so far, is the first fund particularly for female founders in Austria – and the first fund raised in the nation by a female general partner team.

Auxxo, a $15 million fund headquartered in Germany, Sista, a €100 million fund based in France, and Pink Salt Ventures from the United Kingdom have all emerged in the recent year to invest in female-founded firms. However, Fassl feels that much more has to be done in Europe to support women-owned businesses.

“We are regularly asked about market competitiveness and whether there aren’t already enough female-focused funds available. The honest and unequivocal response is “absolutely not.”

Fassl adds,  “We are frequently questioned about competition in this market and whether there aren’t already enough female-focused funds available. The honest and unequivocal answer is no.”

Fund F will invest in 25-30 pre-seed and seed stage firms with at least one female cofounder who, significantly, has equal representation on the cap table during the following four years.

The first ticket amounts will range between €100,000 and €400,000, depending on whether the fund leads the rounds or not. Approximately half of the cash will be set aside for future projects.

Fassl anticipates the fund to lead the rounds of approximately 30% of its portfolio companies: “we’ve noticed in the last years that a lot of gender-diverse teams are struggling to find a lead investor,” she adds, and they “certainly want to address this market need.”

Companies must have digital and scalable business models that can not only produce money but also have a beneficial influence on the planet. Climate tech, femtech, healthtech, fintech, insurtech, and HR tech are among the areas of concentration, although Fassl and Wöss are open to financing firms in other sectors as well.

While Female Founders’ investment strategy is pan-European, Fassl believes that a significant portion of its money and attention should be directed toward startups on its “home soil.”

“We will undoubtedly invest in Austria since we believe the ecosystem has a lot to offer. We will surely invest in Austria since we feel the ecosystem has a lot to offer.”

Fund F’s limited partners include a mix of entrepreneurs, angels, and family offices. Women make up 36% of the fund’s LPs, and women manage more than 60% of the money invested in the fund.

The fund’s three cornerstone investors are the Austrian bank Raiffeisen Landesbank Steiermark, the public investor Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH through its Venture Capital Initiative, and Hanswomen Group’s super angel Hansi Hansmann.

Fund F also includes the founders of the running app Runtastic and the language learning app Busuu, as well as Speedinvest, one of Europe’s most active seed-stage venture capital funds.

While €20 million may not seem like much to the big dog finances out there, Fassl feels it is just what the squad needs.

“The goal is to swiftly raise the fund and distribute it to gender-diverse teams in order to gain traction for raising another fund later.”

The fund has already made many investments, the first of which will be publicized in the coming weeks.


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